Recently we peered behind the doors of the most charming, light filled Marrickville home owned by Jose and Ben Hendriks.
In its former life, this home was a run down old boarding house until it became privately owned in around the 1970’s. It suffered from decades of neglect, most original features had been stripped out and the rooms were painted ghastly vibrant blues and yellows. In October this year, Jose and Ben celebrate 10 years of their ownership of this home and over this time, have brought it back to glory, lovingly restoring and revitalising its original features.
Jose has a passion for antiques and sourcing quality items and, after an endless search for that “special bed” for her daughter, and a call to do something creative, Jose created Little French, an on-line business specialising in sourcing vintage and antique children’s beds and interiors.
Here Jose shares with us more about Little French, what she loves the most about her home and where she thinks the best places in the Inner West are to source something special and unique for your home.
How did Little French come about? “I have always been interested in antique furniture (my grandmother had an antique shop in Newcastle when I was growing up) and I love scouring auction houses and markets for unique items. I had the most beautiful antique bed growing up which my first daughter now has.
After my third child, I resigned from my corporate role to balance family life and study design and interior decorating.
When it came time to find that special bed for my 2nd daughter, I searched endlessly and really struggled with the quality of the new beds available. This made me realise there was a gap in the market and Little French was born.
18 months later and after a six month long family trip sourcing vintage children’s items in France, I have sold beds to homes all over Australia.”
How long have you lived in the Inner West? “I have lived in the Inner West for about 20 years. Starting out in Birchgrove, then my husband and I bought our first terrace in Petersham in 2003. We have been in our current house in Marrickville for 10 years this October.”
What do you love the most about your home? “There is so much to love about our home, but it certainly didn’t look like it does now when we bought it. Up until the 1970’s It had been used as a boarding house for at least 40 years and so many of the original features had been removed. But it had lots of space and potential and great bones. I love mixing antiques and eclectic pieces with modern – and wanted to create a white backdrop so each item had a chance to be seen.
My favourite rooms are the formal lounge and master bedroom. They sit on top of each other and are each about 34 square metres. They both have beautiful bay windows letting in lots of natural light and high ceilings making these rooms feel luxurious and grand. Our bedroom has the original kauri pine floors – and some of the pine boards run the full length of the floor – about 9 metres long. I also love that these rooms are on the corner of the block, so we don’t look into anyone’s backyard and we are flooded with natural light.
Our backyard feels like an oasis. We had to reduce the footprint of the house to create it but it was worth it. We made the most of the industrial warehouse wall that borders us by training boston ivy up it and creating a magnificent green wall.“
What does a typical weekend in the Inner West look like for you? “Saturdays are all about racing around after kid’s activities with soccer at Mackey Park, music in Dulwich Hill and Ballet in Petersham.
We love to spend sunny Saturday afternoons sitting on the hill at Henson Oval in the sun (with the papers and a beer) watching the Newtown Jets play and the kids run around.
Sunday you can find us wandering to the Marrickville Markets for fresh flowers, fruit and veg and a coffee. You’ll find me having a rummage around Reverse Garbage, it’s pretty special – lots of stuff and a great place for craft with the kids.”
Where do you hunt for antiques in the Inner West? “There is an array of independent boutiques and antique / vintage shops on the St Peters end of King Street. I also go to auctions such as Lawsons and Rafffan, Kelaher and Thomas – both in Leichhardt. For Little French, I look at auctions all over Australia.”
Where are your favourite places to source home wares and furniture for your home in the Inner West? “In addition to antiques, St Peters is the suburb I go for home-wares and furniture. I find a lot of “sameness” in many stores and always search for something a little unique. Sibella’s store, Society Inc in Precinct 75 is a wonderful place to source well crafted home wares and gifts. I never come away empty-handed, everything in the store has a story and has been ethically sourced. I recently bought our outdoor hanging chair and a rug for my daughter’s room from here.
For furniture I love Project 82, which is also in St Peters. I am currently in the market for new couches and I love that their designs are classic and contemporary. They are made in Australia and are great quality built to last, which is an important thing I look for.
Jose’s favourite foodie places in the Inner West:
For coffee – “it has to be Two Chaps”
Date night – “Citavino. It’s like stepping into a little wine shop in Europe and is one of the smallest licensed bottle shops in Sydney. “
For a cheese fix – “Stinking Bishops, Enmore” I can’t go past their cheese plates – they have a long list of European and Australian cheese to choose from and combined with a glass of sparkling, that’s my idea of heaven
We absolutely loved the Hendrik’s home. Jose’s knack of curating special pieces makes this home feel warm and interesting. Which part of this home do you love the most?
Want to know more about Little French and find your own special bed?